Obituary: Audrey Arnold Folden

Great grandmother, teacher, hardworking tennis enthusiast

Audrey Arnold Folden, longtime Claremont resident, Pomona College alumni, beloved mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend, died Friday, December 9, 2017, after a brief, unexpected hospitalization. She was 80 years old.

Born in 1937 to Albert and Ethel Arnold, young Audrey grew up in a hardworking, tennis playing family. Her strong work ethic was in evidence early, as she graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Claremont’s Pomona College in 1959. Shortly thereafter, she married Michael Dean Folden, Sr., a union that would last 48 years, until Mr. Folden’s death in July 2007, and produce four children, Michael, Lance, Michelle and Monique.

Along with her busy home life, Mrs. Folden coached her children’s’ local community teams in softball, baseball and soccer, and was a Girl Scout leader and Boy Scout den mother. She was a constant source of guidance, and set a strong example with her self-discipline and tireless work ethic, her family shared.

In 1969 she began her career as a teacher, reading specialist and reading recovery instructor at E.J. Marshall Elementary in the Chino Valley School District. In 1997 the district honored her as its teacher of the year. She retired from CVSD in 2002.

After 33 years at Chino, Mrs. Folden continued her commitment to education and passed on her knowledge and expertise to aspiring teachers as a professor at Cal Poly Pomona, where she was known to be a tough but fair instructor.

She was also a lifelong tennis enthusiast whose competitive senior tennis career spanned more than 40 years. Known for her “dreaded” backhand drop shot, she won the United States Tennis Association’s National Women’s 45 Doubles Hard Court Championship in 1982, as well as numerous tournament titles throughout Southern California. Mrs. Folden was also cast in a Paine Webber television commercial with 1970s and ‘80s tennis great Jimmy Connors, a fun highlight of her hard court career.

In addition to her daily matches with her tennis “family” at The Claremont Club, Mrs. Folden maintained a very busy schedule of activities, including her passionate involvement in the education and daily lives of her grandchildren, auditing psychology classes at the Claremont Colleges through the city’s Claremont Avenues for Lifelong Learning program, learning German, playing piano, country line dancing, and most recently, enthusiastically hand-charting statistics for NFL players with her son, Lance, to aid in their selecting players for their FanDuel fantasy football teams.

She is survived by sons Michael and Lance Folden; daughters Michelle Davey Valencia and Monique Folden Mast; grandchildren Bryant, Brenae, Marina, Jhaline, Marla, Elisa, Rachel and Matthew; and great grandchildren Silas and Verity.

Per her request, Mrs. Folden’s ashes were scattered at sea in a private family ceremony on December 29, 2017 on a beautiful Southern California day, in calm waters off the coast of San Pedro.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in her name to the American Cancer Society at


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